Posts Tagged ‘united states’

Jane Toppan

Jane Toppan was as violent a shock to nineteenth century America as the Manson murders would be almost a century later. One of many serial killers using an avocation to nursing or medicine, Jane Toppan was a nurse who had access to both medicine and victims with little or no supervision. But many experts attest that Jane Toppan was less a programmatic serial killer than simple an insane woman whose access to medical resources enabled her to end life in the double digits.

The rare female serial killer, Toppan used her medical resources to experiment on patients with fake charts and using strychnine and atropine. Dubbed the “Angel of Death” from later newspaper reports, Toppan “topped” over seventy victims in her New England hunting ground. Getting private income from members of the public as a private nurse and earning respect as a ward sister, Jane Toppan has institutional credibility in an era when public knowledge of clinical medicine was rare.

Jane Toppan needed no vehicle to cruise for patients. As a nurse at Cambridge Hospital, they were already within her purview. While initially her victims were patients she disliked, there is no reason to suppose anyone was safe from her killer bedside manner. The epithet “Angel of Mercy” was common to nurses in the period. But Jane Toppan delivered a special meaning to about thirty human beings of which mercy played no part.

Born Honora Kelly in 1857, Jane Toppan was the name her life evolved her into. Who knows who “Honora Kelly” might have been? Jane’s birth father and sister both went insane. Jane wasn’t far behind. Adopted by the Toppans from a Boston orphanage at age five, Jane was raised in the shadow of her pretty and privileged foster sister. Jane’s memories of her “mother’s” abuse would come back to haunt them.

Donald Henry Gaskins

Donald Henry Gaskins was a serial killer of absolutely ugly dimensions who ruled the Deep South with an unimaginable terror. South Carolina was an unsafe place to be looking for a ride on the highway, especially from 1955 through to 1977. The target of Gaskins’s murders was principally women, although the motivation is unclear. His early petty theft career landed him in dark places, where a career in murder soon started. An early marriage and parenthood didn’t soften a lifetime of brutal aggression.

Gaskins started out life diminutive and not particularly brainy. But not every man five feet four inches commits serial murder. Adolescent assault on women triggered a reform school and incarceration climate where sexual abuse due to his size was unavoidable. But knowing how this might come to pass, why did Gaskins commit crime after crime that would railroad him toward the very confinement that would institute his sexual abuse? Gaskins did as much to pursue a path of positioning himself in abusive conditions as possible.

Gaskins claimed a deep hatred of women but the origin is not certain. Gaskin’s killings were so numerous he is termed by many criminologists as a mass murderer. Did Gaskins’ physique determine his outcome in life, or did his psyche merely condition him for a lifetime of misguided aggression to take the life of others? Was Gaskins headed down the road of a psychotic criminal and serial murderer no matter what his height?

Called “Pee Wee” for his physically diminutive stature, Gaskins was part of a set of boys known as the Trouble Trio and was soon committing burglaries and other crimes with them. One burglary too many resulted in a former schoolmate recognizing him, and the law intervened. Donald Henry Gaskins was a product of the juvenile home for boys called the South Carolina Industrial School for Boys. In this facility until age eighteen, Gaskins was sexually abused in a homosexual manner of rape. Yet his homicidal aggression does not stem strictly from this period.

David Parker Ray

While it is a mark of camp culture to reference sadomasochism and sexuality as a game or dungeon pursuit, David Parker Ray made this a reality. His custom built $100,000 trailer full of torture devices and S & M paraphernalia gives testimony to the deeply rooted deviancy at work in his nature. The instinct to abduct, torture, and kidnap women and maintain a level of pain and continual submission has no redeeming social value. The killing was premeditated, a lust crime, and a manipulation of control and dominance over an undeserving victim.

Unlike many profiled serial killers, David Parker Ray had a clean rap sheet and few problems with others. His disturbing sex hobbies were kept under wraps and only carelessness led to his arrest. David Parker Ray derived no monetary or other profit from his crimes, such as video earnings, internet publicity, or book royalties from memoirs or movie deals. In fact, David Parker Ray did not survive long in prison although the judge afforded him 224 years, plenty of time to get the hang of incarceration.

Most human beings will luckily not have any contact with evil such as Ray inflicted and created in his “Toy Box’. the specifics of the crime scene involved a litany of unorthodox items serving as weapons or instruments of torture for the use of by Ray and his girlfriend Jessy. At trial Ray’s daughter was charged and may have been involved in “roping” or luring victims to the Toy Box or other locations where Ray secured their persons involuntarily. Kidnapping and conspiracy were just as biting offenses to the ultimate trial as the sexual abuse, as Cynthia V. Hill had been taken across state lines from Oregon.